Africa-Press – Kenya. Over $14 million has been disbursed to over 9000 small and micro enterprises in the Northern Kenya region through the Impact for Northern Kenya Fund.
The initiative targets various sectors such as agriculture, livestock, energy, climate, and tourism.
It is for on-lending to micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) under the USAID Kuza project and has since seen the creation of over 16,500 jobs in the arid and semi-arid counties of Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot.
On Thursday, private and development sector actors gathered in Nairobi for the Northern Kenya Impact Investment Conference where financiers and investors pledged their support for impact investments aimed at contributing to sustainable development of the region.
The one-day conference hosted by USAID Kuza and partners, themed “Why Northern Kenya, Why Now?” discussed the status, and opportunities and addressed constraints for investment in the region.
They also explored the growing need to close the funding gap hindering enterprise development in northern Kenya.
Speaking during the event, USAID Kuza, chief of the party, Wyanie Bright said “The ‘missing middle’ small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) struggle to access appropriate financing to support their growth and development.
“By addressing the financing needs of the missing middle, stakeholders can empower SMEs in Northern Kenya to grow, innovate, and create jobs, ultimately driving economic development and social progress in the region’s growth and sustainable development of the region,” Bright said.
The official added that while there is a concerted effort by the government, the development sector, and the private sector to grow the number of enterprises operating in Northern Kenya, there is a need to match their demand for financing through financing the financiers.”
“The Fund de-risks the opportunity cost of doing business in Northern Kenya and uses gender, youth, and market systems lenses to identify borrowers that promote equitable financing and business practices and encourage competitive and resilient markets.”
At least 59 per cent of the lending has been to women-owned enterprises and women groups.
The Cabinet Secretary for the East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Regional Development, Rebecca Miano, commented during the conference:
“As you explore the range of opportunities for investment in the ASALs, I urge you to zero in on practical solutions with transformative impact alongside those that hold the greatest promise for job creation for our youth,” CSEast African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Regional Development, Rebecca Miano said.
Other discussions delved around efforts in greening the North, considering the vital connection between environmental factors and the agricultural sector in Northern Kenya, as well as sustainable job creation in counties.